Pat and Kevin Williams weren't participating in practice on Wednesday, but they might have the biggest day of their offseason on Friday. That's when a court ruling on their restraining orders against four-game suspensions is supposed to be handed down.
Neither Pat Williams
nor Kevin Williams
were on the field Wednesday for the Vikings second day of organized team activities, but this will be a big week for the Pro Bowl defensive tackles.
At 10 a.m. CDT Friday, Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson is expected to release his ruling on a motion made by the attorneys for the Williamses that would extend the temporary restraining order that has prevented the NFL from imposing the four-game suspensions on both players.
Earlier this month, Larson ruled that, while the NFL wasn't forthcoming about its anti-doping policy and left some ambiguity in the policy, that it was within its right to impose the suspensions initially given to the Williams Wall in November 2008. Larson previously granted a restraining order that prevented the suspensions being served to start the 2009 season. The Williamses and their attorneys plan to appeal the decision and have asked that the order preventing the imposition of the suspensions be extended during that process.
The NFL is currently in the process of appealing the federal court decision that remanded a pair of key questions to the state court in Minnesota that was heard by Larson. The league won its federal case, but, along with the other major professional sports businesses, is looking to close the federal loophole that could allow other players who fail league-imposed drug tests from seeking relief in a state court.
If Friday's ruling goes against the Williams Wall, even if the appeal continues to go on as planned, the NFL will have the right to suspend both – most likely forcing both to sit the first four games of the regular season – a slate that includes game at New Orleans, vs. Miami, vs. Detroit and at the New York Jets.
At the OTA practice Wednesday, Brad Childress was asked if the Vikings had a "Plan B" in place in the event the Williams Wall is dismantled for a month and said it has been a scenario that has been possible for parts of three seasons.
"We've always kind of had that," Childress said. "It's not like we are going to come and defensive tackles are going to fall out of the sky."
It was pretty clear that the first round of OTA practices were not mandatory. Although previous seasons have witnessed almost full participation, the only two starters that from the 2009 team that were on the field were safeties Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson. Considering the Vikings have all 22 starters under contract, that's saying something.
When it comes to answering Brett Favre questions, Childress has been something of a courtroom hybrid – a cooperative hostile witness. He'll give an answer, but he doesn't always give too much information. He was asked if he has talked recently with Favre and he said he hasn't, adding that he has exchanged text messages. "Texting is not talking," Childress said. For some reason it came as something akin to Bill Clinton – "I did not have phone conversations with that man … Mr. Favre."
Favre isn't just kicking back on the couch in Mississippi. He's working out his arm. Fans who want memorabilia signed can do so through a company called Radtke Sports Group, which has a signing scheduled for July 15. Got a helmet or jersey you want signed? It will cost you. Helmets and jerseys will cost $400 to be signed, with $250 for a football or a photo 11x14 or larger and $175 for a mini-helmet (mini-autograph?) and a photo smaller than 11x14. Say you want to get a gift of a signed Favre item for your buddy Moustache Pete? That's going to cost you an extra $100. Favre is truly recession-proof.
Chester Taylor compared Bears QB Jay Cutler's leadership skills to Favre, telling The Chicago Tribune, "I can see the leadership in (Cutler) that I saw in Brett Favre. The quarterback has to be the leader of the offense and (Cutler) is a take-charge type of guy. He has a strong arm and he's just so determined." Apparently he didn't see much of Cutler's disappointing debut season with Chicago, where he rivaled a pair of rookie QBs for the worst passer rating and most interceptions in the league.
Word in the video game community is that there may a tip-off to whether Favre comes back in 2010. The early buzz on the Madden 11 video game is that Favre is the Vikings QB. That could be enough to tip the scale in his decision to return. He couldn't let down John Madden, could he?
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.